Child's Health

Septal Defect – A Detailed Overview

Congenital Heart Disease affects 1.35 million newborns globally. A study carried out on 34,517 people in North Central India found that 661 had CHD, which equals 19.14 per 1,000 individuals, according to a report by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Among these, the most commonly recognized disease was ventricular septal defect, which affected 33% of the people, followed by atrial septal defect, affecting 19%.

Wondering what exactly are these defects? Take a look.

1. Ventricular Septal Defect

VSD is a hole that is formed in the wall that separates the lower chambers of the heart. Doctors at reputed children’s heart institutes say that this could occur as a primary defect, without any major cardiac challenges. In normal development, the wall closes before the baby is born. Due to this, the oxygen rich blood is separated from the blood with poor oxygen content. But with VSD, since the hole is not closed on time, high pressure is created in the heart, leading to reduced oxygen levels in the body.

Symptoms of VSD

A baby born with ventricular septal defect might start to show symptoms in the first few weeks or months of birth. Look out for extremely fast breathing or breathlessness, failure to eat and grow properly and getting fatigued easily.

Treatment of VSD

In case the child is extremely sick, a temporary operation can be carried out to relieve the symptoms and lower the blood pressure in the lungs. This is known as pulmonary artery banding. Open heart surgery is performed if the hole is quite large.

2. Atrial Septal Defect

ASD is a condition in which there is a hole in the wall separating the two upper heart chambers. Just like VSD, the blood with different levels of oxygen content mixes together. In a normal child, the fetal opening slowly closes within weeks or a few months. In case the hole is large, extra blood is pumped into the arteries of the lungs. Due to this, the heart works harder than usual, leading to eventual damage.

Symptoms of ASD

Heart murmur, heard through stethoscope, stroke, severe heart palpitations and fatigue are the most significant symptoms. Swelling of the abdomen, feet and legs can also be seen in some children. Be mindful and get in touch with the nearest children’s heart institute immediately.

Treatment of ASD

If the opening is a small one, surgery is not required. It might close naturally and there are no medicines for it. But if the hole is large, open heart surgery or catheterization can be performed. These procedures are done in early childhood, to prevent further complications in future.

Life of Children with Septal Defects

Children with VSD or ASD can lead a normal life, like any other child. There are no restrictions on daily physical activities, like walking, running, cycling or doing household chores. Pediatricians can examine the child periodically for leakages and prescribe medicines, if required.

It is crucial for parents to be aware of congenital diseases and their consequences. This will help in early diagnosis and treatment.

Fathiyya Al Shaikh

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Fathiyya Al Shaikh

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